Lyft receives licence to operate in Richmond

Uber launched operations in Richmond but is waiting for a regional licensing program to kick in rather than apply to the city.

The City of Richmond issued a business licence to the ride-hailing service Lyft on Friday morning so its drivers could pick up passengers within the municipality, but it has not received an application for a licence from Uber.

The Vancouver International Airport confirmed Lyft and Uber have permission to operate at the airport.

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Taxis and ride-hailing services need permission from the airport authority to operate at YVR as well as a business licence from the City of Richmond.

But Richmond city spokesperson Clay Adams said Uber has not reached out to the municipality for a business licence.

Uber plans to apply for the Inter-Municipal Business Licence, which is expected to be put in place by the end of the month by TransLink’s Mayors’ Council, the company confirmed with the Richmond News. Uber was operational in Richmond as of 8 a.m. Friday.

The business licence Lyft applied for allows them to have an unlimited number of ride-hailing vehicles operating in Richmond – the business licence rules are the same as for cab companies, explained Adams.

Uber and Lyft got the green light from the province on Thursday to operate in Richmond as well as the rest of the Lower Mainland.

The announcement came from the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) which approves taxis and ride-hailing.

According to a press release, Lyft is currently accepting applications from interested drivers, and they’ve opened a “driver hub” in Richmond. They’ve also partnered with Valley Driving School to help anyone wanting to be a driver to get their Class 4 driver’s license.

“We are thrilled to have received approval from the Passenger Transportation Board and are excited to bring Lyft’s ridesharing service to the region,” said Peter Lukomskyj, general manager of Lyft in B.C.

Ride-hailing companies will need to get a licence from the City of Richmond to operate here – that will be after they receive a licence from the PTB.

Richmond is working with other Lower Mainland municipalities on an inter-municipal business licence approach for ride-hailing services, explained city spokesperson Clay Adams. A draft is expected by the end of the month.

In September, Richmond council approved an interim approach whereby ride-hailing could be licenced like taxis after they were approved by the PTB, Adams added.

The Minister of Transportation, Claire Trevena, released a statement after the decision saying the government has being developing a “framework that puts passenger safety first,” and that the companies will comply with the “highest safety standards” on the continent.

“In the board’s decisions, it has committed to closely monitoring fleet sizes and minimum pricing to avoid potential impacts on traffic congestion and to ensure adequate incomes for drivers,” she added.

An application for Kater Technologies to operate in the Lower Mainland was denied by the PTB.

Richmond council was lobbying the provincial government this fall to level the playing field between the taxi industry and ride hailing, for example, to make the rules the same vis-a-vis a cap on the number of vehicles in their fleets, insurance and geographical limits.

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